Oh, I see! How inventive! You've actually stacked the boxes I am supposed to live in!

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Winsted selectmen vote 'no' on land trust's preservation plan

WINSTED, CT — Townspeople and taxpayers won’t be voting on the Winchester Land Trust Proposal and the $450,000 grant that comes with it, the Board of Selectmen decided Monday night.

 photo by John Nordell on Flicker.com

Coming down to a 4-3 vote, the board decided not to take the next step in the bureaucratic process. Instead, the majority voted to deny the proposal, which would have allowed the trust to protect 360 acres abutting Crystal Lake and the Algonquin State Forest, as well as small parcels along Highland Lake altogether.

“They stopped it in its tracks,” said land trust president Shelly Harms. “I’m disappointed the voters didn’t get the chance to decide.”

“We thought it was a win-win for everyone,” she added.

During its discusssion, members raised a few issues with the proposal which would have cost the town $50,000 over the span of eight years, including a $10,000 fee up front. The remaining cost for the easement would break down to $5,000 for every year following. 
One of the issues the board had with the proposal was terrorism.  
The land trust’s proposal would have allowed for one guided tour a year for outsiders visiting the area — and some board members were worried about allowing people near the area’s source of drinking water.

“I don’t care,” said Selectman Karen Beadle, defending her opinion that water at the lake could be affected somehow. “That’s one day too many.”

“That money — it’s a big number,” Selectman Glenn Albanesius said. “It’s seductive. You’re making a decision for future boards.”

Even if selectmen in future years won’t have to worry about the cost, some of those in charge today said they felt like a golden opportunity was botched.

“This grant isn’t going to come again,” said Mayor Candy Perez, who agreed the proposal may not be perfect, but it was better than nothing. “If we don’t do this...we won’t increase fund balance.”

“This was denied to the taxpayers,” said land trust member Susan Closson. “That was an opportunity as a once in a lifetime.”

Harms said the trust, made up of volunteers, is not quite sure what its next step is or if it will have the opportunity to apply for other grants soon. She also believed the board made a mistake in dealing with its future federal funding.

“I wonder if anyone is going to want to deal with the town of Winchester now,” she said.

Ricky Campbell can be reached by e-mail at rcampbell@registercitizen.com and followed on Twitter at Twitter.com/rickycampbellRC. Follow us on Twitter at Twitter.com/registercitizen.

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